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Migrants Embrace Cadbury AFL 9’s

The good news stories from Multicultural Round just keep on coming.

The Round, which was celebrated in football communities far and wide over the weekend, was backed by a number of events and initiatives facilitated by AFL Victoria and its multicultural programs.

With the help of AFL Victoria’s Multicultural Development Officers (MDO), four teams from Adult Migrant Education Services (AMES) took centre stage at half time of the Collingwood vs Adelaide match at the MCG.

Playing the modified rules of Cadbury AFL 9s, the night was the culmination of five weeks of training which began with almost all of the participants having never touched a football before.

The idea behind AMES is to help migrants integrate into the community and what better way to do it than with Australian Football.

MDO for the South East Region Michael Nguyen said it was amazing to see the immigrants from mainly Afghanistan, Iraq and Burma take to our native game.”

“Most of the guys and girls who played would have never seen or even heard of the MCG, so to be running out on the ground to play at half time in front of a massive crowd would have been a pretty surreal experience,” Nguyen said

“When I arrived at the first training session I had about 15 footballs and most of them ended up on the roof.”

“We started out just trying to get them used to kicking and then over the weeks we started introducing the rules of AFL 9s and the concept of a game.”

Nguyen said by the time Friday night arrived, his team made up participants from AMES centres at Dandenong and Noble Park had improved out of sight.

“A lot of guys didn’t speak English but we had a couple who could speak it fluently and were able to translate what I was saying to the others.”

“The marking of the ball was pretty foreign to them but a lot have played soccer and worked out how to kick fairly well.”

Nguyen said the feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive and most indicated they’d be back to see another game.

“After haIf time they all stayed to watch and I sat with them a tried to explain some of the rules and make sure they didn’t all end up barracking for Collingwood,” he said with a laugh.

“They seemed to love it but unfortunately most left as big Magpie fans.”

Along with three other teams made of AMES participants, kids from the Centre for Multicultural Youth also played a game of Cadbury AFL 9s against members of a Collingwood program that aims to engage the African community.